Politicians must protect children from junk food brands

By June Shannon Policy News   |   23rd Jun 2022

Technology a huge factor in junk food marketing to children

More than 79 per cent of adults in Ireland would support a ban on junk food and drink advertising on television being extended from the current 6pm to 9pm, a new poll has found.

The poll carried out by Ipsos data on behalf of the Irish Heart Foundation also revealed that 77 per cent of those surveyed are in favour of a ban on the use the personal data of under-18s to individually target them with advertising and promotion of junk food products online

The results come as the Irish Heart Foundation launched a new ‘Stop Targeting Kids’ drive today (June 23) which called on the Government to follow the UK and legislate to protect the next generation from diet-related disease.

Ireland currently restricts advertising of junk food and drink – but only on children’s TV programmes up to 6pm.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s Stop Targeting Kids campaign has been to the fore in highlighting the link between online junk food marketing and children’s health.

It estimates that by 2030, more than 17 per cent of five to nine-year-olds will be living with obesity, while in 1990, only 2 per cent of all children were living with obesity.

“ Junk food is being given a starring role in young people’s minds and our health is at risk as a result,”

Christina Adane , Bite Back 2030

Youth campaigners Christina Adane and Jacob Rosenberg from Britain’s Bite Back 2030 group, which successfully lobbied politicians for a junk food marketing ban in the UK, spoke at a special event in Dublin today (June 23) organised by the Irish Heart Foundation encouraging Irish politicians to act.

“Junk food is being given a starring role in young people’s minds and our health is at risk as a result,” urged Christina in her presentation to politicians in Dublin this morning.

“Change is possible. Irish politicians can and must act to stem this flood. Together, let’s give future generations the best chance to live healthy and happy lives.”

Director of Advocacy, with the Irish Heart Foundation Chris Macey said, “We had a commitment in the Programme for Government in 2020 on this issue; it is now urgent that we have legislative action in the Public Health (Obesity) Bill to protect children’s health,”

“Just this week, Government funded research by Safefood showed similar support levels for legislative action on unhealthy food and drinks marketing to young people.

“The depth of feeling in Ireland over junk food marketing means that our Government simply cannot ignore it any longer. The health of our children, including their future health, is something that matters to us all.

“The food pyramid has been effectively turned on its head – unhealthy food brands are marketing a completely different diet to the one young people should consume. We know marketing is influencing young people diets– we must act to protect children from developing cardiovascular disease in their futures,” he added.

“The depth of feeling in Ireland over junk food marketing means that our Government simply cannot ignore it any longer,"

Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy , The Irish Heart Foundation

Mr Macey said technology was a “huge factor” in allowing products with high fat, sugar and salt content to target children – and to avoid 2013 legislation which banned advertising of unhealthy food brands broadcast before 6 pm here.

“Since then, we have seen an explosion of marketing in an online free-for-all; that’s why we need the ban to extend across all forms of social media, while influencer marketing has also emerged as a big problem.

“In Ireland, we are reliant on self-regulation on the marketing of such foods, but we know through engaging with social media and young people themselves that they are still seeing this marketing.”

The Irish Heart Foundation is asking politicians to sign a political pledge supporting the new measures here.

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advertising online advocacy childhood obesity childhood obesity manifesto Government junk food junk food marketing stop targeting kids

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